El Atrio (Quito; tel. 02/2520-581)
With an eclectic menu, elegant ambience, and wonderful setting overlooking the Plaza Foch, this is one of my favorite restaurants in Quito. The menu here is equally rewarding whether you're coming for a snack, light lunch, or full meal.
Azuca Latin Bistro (Quito; tel. 02/2907-164)
Loud and lively most of the time, this new spot serves up excellent nuevo latino fare. Mojitos are the specialty drink, and there's quite a variety of them on the menu here.
Zazu (Quito; tel. 02/2543-559)
Brash and bold, Quito's hippest new restaurant is also one of its most satisfying. The Peruvian-born chef uses his native sensibility, fresh local ingredients, and ample imagination to create a consistently successful string of new and exciting dishes. Just about everything on the menu shines, but my favorite way to dine here is to trust the chef and sign on for his nightly tasting menu.
Hacienda Rumiloma (Quito; tel. 02/2548-206)
It's worth the short taxi ride to this elegant and eclectic restaurant on the slopes of Volcán Pichincha. The menu is broad, inventive, and wonderfully executed. And the cozy dining room features an excellent view of the city below.
Hotel Ali Shungu (Otavalo; tel. 06/2920-750)
Housed inside a popular hotel, this is my favorite restaurant in Otavalo. The healthy and creative international cuisine is served in a cozy and inviting ambience. Locally grown organic produce is used wherever possible. This is a welcome treat for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.
Café Mariane (Baños de Agua Santa; tel. 03/2740-911)
I know Baños is a backpacker and budget-hound hangout, but even if that description fits you, be sure to treat yourself to an elegant French-Mediterranean meal at the best little restaurant in town.
Villa Rosa (Cuenca; tel. 07/2837-944)
Excellent Ecuadorean cuisine is matched with an elegant setting and superb service in this Cuenca restaurant. Although traditional Ecuadorean dishes are the mainstay here, they often are given little twists and turns that set them above what you'll find at most other local joints. This place is almost always busy -- and it's closed on most weekend evenings -- so reservations are essential.
Lo Nuestro (Guayaquil; tel. 04/2386-398)
Elegant and relaxed, this is the best place in Guayaquil to enjoy classic Ecuadorean cooking in a refined setting. The restaurant is located a little outside downtown, but it's definitely worth the ride.
Sucre (Guayaquil; tel. 04/2838-068)
Guayaquil is experiencing a major boom in high-end dining, and this new fusion restaurant is leading the way. The decor is chic and contemporary, the bar is well stocked and beautiful, and the food hits all the right marks.
Martinica (Manta; tel. 05/2613-735)
Creative and hip, this homey restaurant stands head and shoulders above the rest in Manta. The eclectic fusion menu is bolstered by a wide-ranging wine list.
Sea Flower Restaurant (Same; tel. 06/2733-369)
It's almost worth a trip to Ecuador's Pacific coast just to dine at this delightful spot. Presentations are eye-catching, and the food lives up to the fanfare. Be sure to have a reservation -- this place fills up fast.
Red Sushi (Puerto Ayora; tel. 05/2526-524)
With so much fresh seafood available just outside this restaurant's front door and back dock, it's only natural they serve up some excellent sushi. The setting is subdued and romantic, and the rest of the menu -- apart from the sushi -- is also wonderfully done.
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